Tomorrow night the Tampa Bay Lightning will play their last match in the 2011-12 campaign. Both the Bolts and their final opponents, the Winnipeg Jets, have nothing at stake other than pride and honor, as both have been eliminated from playoff contention many days ago.
Of the five games already played between the two divisional foes, Winnipeg has the upper hand in the season series with three wins, winning twice at home and once in Tampa. The last time the Bolts got the best of the Jets was at home on 31 March, where we saw Steven Stamkos notch the OT winner, giving him sole ownership of the NHL Single Season OT Goal Scoring Record (5 Goals).
It seems fitting that in the last game of the regular season against the very same opponent, Stamkos is poised to become the first to score 60 goals in a single season since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08. Though the Hockey Gods did not see fit to grant the Lightning another playoff appearance, they seem to be orchestrating Stamkos’ League/Franchise/Personal record breaking season in such dramatic fashion, it almost feels as if it should be a story from Greek Mythology.
The downside to Stamkos being this close to the mark, was already discussed in a previous posting by Dolly Reynolds-Dolce:
Everyone is talking about him making the big 60. Everyone but him and Coach Boucher. Neither of them want the team trying to get the puck to him and distract them from how they normally play. Despite their wishes, that is exactly what appeared to have happened tonight against Montreal.
Tonight The Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Montreal Canadiens. My quick summery of the game was “I’ve got the puck, where’s Stamkos? Let’s pass it to him!!” …then he gets it… and no score.
Stamkos is amazing, don’t get me wrong,. But he’s not the only one on the team. The guys are pushing him so hard to get that sixtieth goal, that it is taking away from their own games.
I completely agree with the above take on the situation. Would I love to see Stamkos hit 60, of course. Would I rather see the Lightning win the last game of the season more, yes, and I feel Steven Stamkos would agree.
Hockey is a team sport, played by phenomenal individuals such as Stamkos. If a team is not playing as one, with one goal in sight (to win) then as fantastic as 60 would be, it would be bitter-sweet. Let’s remember to be the thunder for all Bolts tomorrow night, not just Stamkos.
– Jim Courteau
Follow me on Twitter @BlackSheepJim